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Documentary Exposes U.S. Government’s War on Animal Rights “Terrorists”

February 17, 2016 by Leave a Comment

The News

“Investigating and preventing animal rights extremism is one of our highest domestic terrorism priorities. We are committed to working with our partners to disrupt and dismantle these movements; to protect our fellow citizens; and to bring to justice those who commit crimes and terrorism in the name of animal rights.”

Footage of an FBI agent delivering these chilling remarks at a U.S. Senate hearing is just one of many historic moments included in “Activists or Terrorists?,” a half hour Participant Media documentary narrated by Maggie Gyllenhaal that exposes the U.S. government’s tyrannical effort to intimidate and silence animal rights activists. Following is a short clip:

Profiled in the documentary are several activists who have been victims of government repression, including Lauren Gazzola and Andy Stepanian, who were convicted of terrorism and sent to prison for their role in undermining the animal testing behemoth Huntington Life Sciences, and Will Potter, an investigative journalist threatened by the FBI to be put on a domestic terrorist list if he didn’t agree to become an informant.

Will Potter captures factory farm footage with a drone before being confronted by the property owners

Will Potter uses a drone to captures factory farm footage before being confronted by the owners

Also profiled are activist Ryan Shapiro and attorney Jeffrey Light, who have used freedom of information laws to uncover the government’s war on the animal rights movement — a crusade backed by the multi-national corporations that exploit animals.

Andy Stepanian is arrested during a fur protest at Macy's in the lat 90s.

Andy Stepanian is arrested during a fur protest at Macy’s in the late 90s.

“Activists or Terrorists?,” which airs on Friday, February 19 at 10pm ET on Pivot TV, is one of ten episodes in a docs-series called “Truth or Power” about how private institutions and governments violate the public trust. Following is a trailer for the series:

According to the producers, the series “highlights the stories of ordinary people going to extraordinary lengths to expose large-scale injustice: from corporations receiving lucrative government contracts for dangerous private prisons, to governments using data-gathering technology to scoop up huge amounts of information about their citizens.”

Filed under: Experimentation, Food
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“Live Bait” Scandal Triggers Public Debate About Proposed Ag-Gag Law

February 26, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

Secretly recorded video of racing dogs ripping apart live animals, who were being used as bait, has triggered public debate in Australia about a proposed ag-gag law that would have compromised the investigation and possibly prevented the incriminating footage from being taken in the first place.

Greyhound trainers tie live animals to automatic lures that the dogs chase during training exercises.

Greyhound trainers attach live animals to fast-moving lures that the dogs chase while training

Barnaby Joyce, Australia’s notoriously anti-animal, anti-activist Minister of Agriculture, is using media coverage of the live bait scandal as a platform to push for a U.S.-style ag-gag law that would punish those who take the footage: “Why should people be allowed to trespass onto a farm? You cannot decide to take the law into your own hands. Everybody has in their own purview an ethical reason to break into some industry because of what they judge to be correct.” The proposed legislation would also require activists who do acquire footage to quickly turn it over to authorities, which would compromise their investigations.

Australia's Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce is  advocating for anti-trespass laws to criminalize undercover investigations

Australia’s Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce is advocating for ag-gag laws to criminalize undercover investigations that expose animal cruelty and to protect those who commit the abuses

If comments posted online about the live bait exposé are any indication, Australians overwhelmingly disagree with Mr. Joyce:

“Only people like Barnaby could look at video of the most barbaric animal cruelty and seek to punish those who exposed it, not those who perpetrate it.”

“If the regulators don’t protect the animals then SOMEONE has too.”

“Baby pigs being ripped apart while tied to a lure doesn’t seem to upset Joyce, but the people who exposed it do?”

“For too long, the so called regulators have been in bed with cruel industries. So who is going to stop cruelty? The people who always have — the public.”

It was in mid-February that Animals Australia and Animal Liberation Queensland shocked the world with the surveillance footage of greyhounds dogs, who are normally docile, being trained by the racing industry to tear apart live rabbits, possums and baby pigs at training facilities.

It isn’t just the dog racing business that Barnaby Joyce is working to protect. Horrific footage from dozens of undercover investigations of Australia’s multi-billion dollar live export industry has demonstrated that transporting millions of cows and sheep to the Middle East and Asia is inherently inhumane. It is this damning footage that Minister Joyce is most eager to suppress.

live-export-sheep copy

Each year, millions of live sheep and cattle are exported to the Middle East and Asia

Australia’s proposed ag-gag law would impose fines up to $10,000 and prison sentences up to 20 years, depending on the amount of economic damage. In the U.S., seven states have passed “ag-gag” bills into law since the 1990s.

Your Turn

Please visit Animals Australia to learn more about the organization’s extraordinary investigations that are blowing the lid off of some of the world’s cruelest animal industries.

Filed under: Entertainment, Investigations
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Farmers Say Activists With Cameras Spread Disease on Factory Farms

December 10, 2014 by Leave a Comment

News & Opinion

In an effort to pass harsher laws to keep cameras out of factory farms, agribusinesses in Eastern Australia are claiming that activists pose a threat to “biosecurity” because they can spread disease to their animals. The factory farmers are not only attempting to hide animal abuse from the public, but they are also shifting the blame for disease outbreaks away from overcrowding and intensive confinement on their farms. If the “biosecurity” measure is passed, activists who enter farms illegally could face up to three years in jail or a $1.1 million fine.

This is not the first attempt by Australian agribusiness to pass American-style “ag gag” laws. In 2012, after several undercover investigations cast a negative spotlight on Australia’s wool and pork industries, a Senator in South Australia introduced the Surveillance Devices bill, which would have criminalized the taking of photos and video of “a legally operating animal enterprise.” It would have also required activists to turn over their videos to authorities within 48 hours. The bill’s sponsor claimed the law would “strengthen genuine animal welfare protections,” as if cameras harm animals. The bill was voted down, re-introduced with changes in July 2014 and voted down again.

In 2013, Australian farmers killed almost 500,000 egg laying hens during an outbreak of avian flu. At the time, no one blamed the outbreak on a cell phone camera.

Agribusiness attempts to shift blame for disease outbreaks from overcrowded barns to activists with cameras

Agribusiness attempts to shift blame for disease outbreaks from overcrowded barns to activists with cameras

Intensive confinement and overcrowding on factory farms spread diseases. Hidden cameras spread the truth. Criminalizing them will make horrific conditions for animals on factory farms even worse, as agribusiness will have no incentive to minimize abuse.

Hidden cameras hold famers accountable (Photo: PETA)

Hidden cameras hold famers accountable (Photo: PETA)

Factory farmers in Australia and around the world confine, mutilate, abuse and slaughter billions of farm animals each year, but they and the government officials in their pockets would like the public to think that activists with cameras are the criminals. History will be the judge.

U.S. Animal rights groups are fighting "ag-gag" bills

U.S. animal rights groups are fighting “ag-gag” bills

Filed under: Food, Investigations
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“Ag Gag” Bill Blocked, but Agribusiness To Escalate Fight To Keep Cameras Out

September 25, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

An “ag gag” bill that was introduced in Southern Australia after undercover investigations exposed animal abuse on pork and wool farms has been voted down. The Surveillance Devices Bill would have penalized activists with up to $15,000 in fines or with imprisonment for releasing footage taken of factory farms.

gestation crates

What agribusiness doesn’t want consumers to see

The Sydney Morning Herald, which declared the vote “a win for consumer advocacy, workers’ rights, freedom of the press and animal protection,” cautioned that supporters of “ag gag” will push for legislation at the federal level.

Following is a two minute non-graphic video taken inside of a pig factory farm in Australia. As the Communications Director of Animals Australia describes the conditions, the intelligent pigs in the background attempt to escape from the intensive confinement of their cages:

Your Turn

As reported on TheirTurn in August, supporters of ag-gag in Australia attempted to disguise the bill as a measure to protect farm animals when its true intent is to keep the public in the dark. Most consumers continue to be unaware of the existence of factory farms and probably believe that the animals who they eat are raised on the green pastures shown on the packaging.

As activists, we must ensure that the work being done by undercover investigators is protected by law and distributed widely to the public. To that end, please share Mercy For Animals’ video  – Farm to Fridge – that takes viewers behind the scenes on modern-day factory Farms.

Filed under: Food, Victories
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Senator Attempts to Disguise Ag Gag Bill as “Animal Protection”

August 19, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

After recent undercover investigations cast a negative light on Australia’s wool and pork industries, a Senator is introducing a bill that would criminalize the taking of photos and video of “a legally operating animal enterprise.” But instead of calling it what it is – “ag gag” – the Senator is attempting to disguise the proposed law as one that would “strengthen genuine animal welfare protections.” Of course, eliminating transparency by keeping out the cameras will make conditions worse for the animals, as agribusiness will have no incentive to minimize abuse. The law would also require animal rights activists to turn over their video evidence of animal abuse to the proper authorities within 24 or 48 hours. In other words, if you do manage to get footage of animal abuse, you have to both incriminate yourself for trespassing AND turn over the footage to people who are not going to publicize it, as the activists would.

Photo: Animals Australia

Photo: Animals Australia

Your Turn

In light of public support for transparency and whistle-blowing, ag-gag proponents are attempting to hide their true intent — keeping the public in the dark — behind not only “animal protections” but also “biosecurity,” as if the mere presence of an activist with a camera is going to spread disease in a shed with thousands of animals living in their own excrement. The cameras don’t pose a risk to anyone but the abusers. Please see how you can support the effort to block ag gag bills.

Filed under: Food, Investigations
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